Thursday, February 08, 2007

 

Don't let a good plan go to waste

You write a great plan. Lots of research, insight, and critical thinking go into this plan. It gets broad approval across your organization. Everyone’s excited about it. Great work.

Then you start to execute. Some things are harder to do than expected. New opportunities develop. New complications materialize. You make real-time decisions on how to change what you’d planned to do. You make adjustments, compromises, changes to get the plan in motion, to get things executed and to meet deadlines.

But despite the need to stay nimble and flexible during execution, it’s important to occasionally look back and ensure that what you’re building, or executing, has stayed true to what you had planned to achieve in the first place.

Adjustments to the plan are fine. Changes in how you execute the plan? Perfectly reasonable.

But a good plan is based on expected outcomes. A clear sense for what success looks like. Clear, measurable objectives.

If some of your execution adjustments and compromises change the fundamental nature of your plan, or dramatically impact your ability to hit expected outcomes, then that’s not good.

If you’ve built a long-term plan, check back on the original plan every month or so. Start a monthly “review” meeting with your team by literally pulling out the original, final plan and reviewing it together. Identify the places where you’ve deviated, and make sure everyone agrees that those changes are OK. Also use this time to “rediscover” parts of the plan you may have forgotten, and identify places where you’ve compromised or deviated to the point where the previously-stated expected outcome is no longer possible.

If you ignore this crucial step, especially with complicated plans executed by many individuals across multiple work groups, you run the very real risk of executing a watered-down, highly compromised version of what you had intended, something that doesn’t have near the impact of what you (and your bosses) had expected.

It takes just a little extra time to do that review, but it’ll keep you focused, on track, and on a path towards achieving the success and results you originally intended.

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